The joys of social networking: anyone can say anything about anything and put it up for the entire world to read, whether they’re an average Joe making a passing comment about their favorite sports team, or an above-average Jose musing on comprehensive immigration reform from the international space station literally a million miles away – which is exactly what happened last week.
U.S. Astronaut Jose Hernandez officially became NASA’s first astronaut to “tweet” in Spanish, causing his popularity among Mexicans in the U.S. and in Mexico to skyrocket (pun intended), and giving him a platform from which to discuss his views on immigration reform.
Hernandez’s space travel was followed closely by Mexicans both on Spanish-language television and on Twitter, where his posts (both in English and in Spanish) covered everything from space travel to reviewing Mexico’s most recent World Cup Qualifier matches. Now that he is back on Earth, his “fans” are following him on a more serious topic – immigration reform.
Hernandez, a California native born of Mexican migrants who crossed the border illegally in search of a way out of poverty, learned to speak English at age 12, worked in the fields alongside his parents and applied 12 years in a row to become an astronaut before he was finally chosen in 2004, according to an AP article that appeared in the New York Times on September 14, 2009.
“The American economy needs them,” Hernandez said of undocumented workers in a recent telephone interview with Mexico’s Televisa network, “I believe it’s only fair to find a way to legalize them and give them an opportunity to work openly.” Hopefully, Hernandez will be able to generate some sort of buzz on the issue, and perhaps light a fire under Congress to begin talks of reforms, but in the meantime, it is nice to introduce a fresh face and a new American success story for immigration reform.